Topping it off

Design

Engineered quartz is the most commonly used material among engineered stones.
K R Srikanta Prasad lists out the pros and cons of using the material for kitchen countertops.

There have been cutting-edge innovations when it comes to building material, over the decades. While granite and marble are natural resources and we have been using them for decades, we have perfected the art of quarrying, cutting and polishing them using precise technology. We have obtained thinner slabs and given them impeccable finishes. We have even relied on efficient chemical sealers to make them durable surfaces. None of it was sufficient. We needed something better.

So, we made engineered stone, where the basic ingredient is crushed stone. These slabs are a composite of crushed stones bonded by polymer resins.  Among these engineered stones, engineered quartz is the most commonly used. Here the content is 93 per cent pure quartz. Engineered quartz has many different qualities. 

Qualities and advantages

It is durable, non porous; it does not absorb any liquid or need any extra sealing unlike natural granite and is fabricated with a coat of resin.

The manufacturing process of compression and curing also ensures that there are no cavities left inside that can absorb moisture or solids. It is easy to clean, low maintenance, scratch-resistant, strong and dense.

Engineered quartz is available in a wide range of colours, even unusual ones. It has designs that sparkle like black golden galaxy granite.

The colour and flow of the pattern is consistent for a particular lot. It is workable - it can be cut and edge polished with ease. Engineered quartz is green and sustainable, so reduces large-scale exploitation of natural resources.

The best qualities of both laminate and natural granite is found in this material. While light coloured natural granite cannot be used for kitchen countertops, all colours in engineered quartz are stain resistant.

Disadvantages

Recent reports show that there is no difference in performance between sealed granite and quartz material.

So people who have access to less expensive granite would opt for granite only.
Engineered quartz is priced the same as high-end granite. At the local retailers, 10mm thick material costs Rs 350-400 per sq ft whereas 20mm costs Rs 575-700 per sq ft. Edge polishing and bull nosing costs Rs 50-200 per running foot.

Though quartz is very strong, it is also very heavy so kitchen cabinets will have to be designed to be extra sturdy.

While there are many colours available, quartz does not have the natural flow and uniquely formed combinations that granite and other natural stone can offer.
Quartz cannot offer the same range of finishes available for marble or granite, as it is confined to either polishing or honed in every case.

Engineered quartz is not used for flooring because it tends to be quite slippery. Engineered stones contain crushed stone particles, pigment and resin.  The quality of the stone particles may not be consistent.

Usage

Quartz cannot really be used in too many ways. It is appropriate for the health and food industry and makes a beautiful addition to any kitchen space. Quartz is usually used for kitchen countertops.

Local people have started using this material for kitchen countertops and in spaces like puja room for flooring and cladding and wash basin countertops.

Source

Local Indian brands, products from China, high quality material from Spain and the Czech Republic are available. There are at least 25-30 varieties which are in constant supply.
Due to its many benefits and current market constraints, this material is here to stay. So, go quartz if you can afford it!

(The writer is a civil engineer.)

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